Title: In the pleasuredome
Author: Paul Bursche and Mike Prior
Source: No. 1
Publish date: 24 November 1984
IN THE PLEASUREDOME
NO.1 GOES INSIDE THE WORLD OF ZTT.
From one small building in West London the recording industry is being taken by storm. Zang Tum Tumb have only released seven records, but their impact has been considerable. Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s first LP ‘Welcome To The Pleasuredome’ sold over a million copies before it was released. Their two singles ‘Relax’ and ‘Two Tribes’ not only dominated the charts in terms of sales - each selling over a million - but in spirit, with Frankie becoming a national byword for outrage and excitement. ZTT’s German group Propaganda had a massive top ten hit in their native country with the mighty ‘Dr Mabuse’, while in America the collection of ZTT musicians who are Art Of Noise topped the dance charts, beating the Americans at their own game.
But despite its huge success ZTT is still a small concern, operating out of Sarm studios in West London. Paul Bursche and Mike Prior paid a flying visit to answer the following questions. What is ZTT? Who are the Art Of Noise? And why have the lips of Propaganda’s singer Claudia got their own ZTT catalogue number? Read on.
1 Sarm West Studios. The most sought after studio in Europe, if not the world. Trevor Horn and Jill Sinclair leased the building from Island Records and built their own studio downstairs. The building now continues an old pop tradition (with groups like Roxy Music having recorded here in the ‘70s) with most of Britain’s top groups stopping by at some time. Culture Club, Wham! and Spandau Ballet have all recorded here recently, and the day we visit Stevie Wonder and Nick Heyward are hard at work. Sarm Studios and the ZTT Offices over it are widely regarded as the home of Frankie.
2 The offices of ZTT. The famous blue-spotted wall decor (which also appears on record labels) has become ZTT’s trademark. Here pop entrepeneur Paul Morley and his team cook up the schemes and propaganda for all the ZTT groups.
3 Probably the most valuable cupboard in the world. It contains the various master tapes for all the mixes, re-mixes and re-re-mixes for ZTT records. To date they have only released seven records, but that cupboard probably contains the equivalent number of tapes that a major company would release in a year!
4 Just a few of the gold and platinum discs received for ‘Relax’ and ‘Two Tribes’. ZTT now have so many that they’ve resorted to giving them away to visitors. Wonder what Frankie say about that…
5 A memento that is treasured by the ZTT staff – their very first letter of complaint about ‘Relax’. It arrived when the single was at No. 70 in the charts, and according to Paul Morley “was the first indication that we’d succeeded.”
6 One of ZTT’s most valuable assets, Holly Johnson and his briefcase, beret and sunglasses bought in Harrods.
7 F.G.T.H. – Frog goes to Holly. The Frankie boys receive scores of gifts every week, many of which decorate the ZTT offices.
8 This curious souvenir is from a German TV show called Formula Einz. Everytime a group gets a No. 1 in the German charts the programme gives them a piece of a car. Frankie are hoping to have enough No.1s to go for a ride one day!
9 The lips of Claudia Bruecken, singer of Propaganda. ZTT are bringing out a catalogue listing all their products. Many ZTT t-shirts, records and videos have been assigned a catalogue number, as have a number of more unlikely items -like Claudia’s lips.
10 The mysterious Art Of Noise themselves. From left to right, producer Trevor Horn, plus Anne Dudley, Gary and JJ. Lurking somewhere behind them is Paul Morley. The Art Of Noise haven’t come out in the open like most groups. They started off as purely a studio band for the Art Of Noise members to have fun. A spokesman for the group reports that they will play live one day, “when we’re big enough to play Wembley”.
11 The three leading lights of ZTT. Paul Morley is represented by The Theatre Of The Absurd, which many would say was an apt description of his old career in journalism. ZTT is his brainchild.
12 Trevor Horn, represented by the Horn Productions logo. His legs being too short for a successful pop career with Buggles, Trevor has found acclaim as a producer with groups like ABC, Yes, Journey, and of course Frankie. The sound of ZTT.
13 Jill Sinclair, represented by her daughter Alexandra’s paintings. Slick businesswoman she may be, but the other side of Jill is that of Trevor Horn’s wife and the mother of two children. The sense of ZTT.
14 Is there any?